We don’t do much of deep frying at home. It is only occasionally that we indulge in deep-fried snacks, sometimes to commemorate a special occasion, sometimes because the bub likes them, sometimes because we desperately crave for them. Right about now, the weather in Bangalore is perfect for deep-fried goodies – cloudy but bright mornings, followed by short showers in the evening. I absolutely had to dish up some Gujarati dalwada, one of my most favourite fried snacks!
If you have never had Gujarati dalwada before, you must absolutely try them out right away. They are so delightful – crunchy from the outside and soft on the inside, beautiful in taste. I have grown up eating them on rainy days and, even today, I cannot think of monsoon without thinking of these beauties. A newspaper cone full of these dalwadas, served with some fried green chillies and salt-soaked thinly sliced onions, spells out B-L-I-S-S to me.
Different people make dalwada in different ways. Some use only split green moong to make them, while some use a mix of lentils of their choice. I prefer the latter, using a mix of lentils and some rice, as I feel this gives a much better texture and taste to the dalwadas. Today, I will share with you the recipe for mixed-lentil Gujarati dalwada, the way a friend of mine taught me to make them.
Here’s how to make Gujarati dalwada or mixed lentil fritters.
Ingredients (serves 5-6):
For the dalvadas:
1-1/2 cups split green moong
1/4 cup chana daal
1/4 cup split yellow moong daal
1/4 cup urad daal (whole or split)
1/4 cup raw rice
Salt, to taste
A 1-inch fat piece of ginger
8-10 cloves of garlic
6-8 green chillies, or as per taste
A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves
Oil, as needed for deep frying
For serving (optional):
Onions, as needed
Green chillies, as needed
Salt, as needed
Lemon slices, as needed
Wash the split green moong, split yellow moong daal, urad daal, chana daal and raw rice together thoroughly under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the extra water.
Place all the washed and drained ingredients in a large vessel, and pour in enough fresh water to cover them completely. Let these ingredients soak for at least 3-4 hours.
Once the above ingredients are done soaking, drain out the water from them. You can reserve this water to use while grinding the batter or throw it away – that’s completely your choice. Transfer the soaked and drained ingredients to a mixer jar. Do not add in any water at this stage – just the soaked and drained ingredients.
Chop the green chillies finely. Peel the ginger and chop it finely. Peel the garlic cloves. Add the green chillies, ginger and garlic to the mixer jar.
Add salt to taste to the mixer jar.
Grind the ingredients in the mixer jar coarsely. Pulse a couple of times for two seconds each, stopping in between to scrape down the sides of the jar. Remember that you need to coarsely crush the ingredients and not make a fine paste. You can add in a little of the soaking water you might have reserved earlier, if needed, while grinding. If you don’t feel the need to add any water while grinding, you need not add any. The batter needs to be thick and not runny.
Chop the coriander finely and add it to the batter you just ground. Mix well and keep aside.
Heat oil for deep frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. When it reaches smoking point, turn down the flame to medium. Drop balls of batter into the hot oil, 4-5 at a time. Deep fry evenly till the dalwadas turn brown. Serve hot.
Gujarati dalwadas are typically served with thinly sliced onions mixed with a little salt, deep-fried green chillies with a little salt sprinkled on them, and slices of lemon. If you want to serve the dalwadas the traditional way, make sure you prep the onions, green chillies and lemon slices at the same time as the dalwadas get fried and ready. Alternatively, you can serve these fritters with tomato ketchup, though that isn’t something I personally prefer – I’d go for the traditional way, any day!
You can skip the garlic in the dalwadas, if you don’t prefer it. Personally, though, I would suggest adding it, as it takes up the taste of the dalwadas higher by several notches.
Adjust the quantity of green chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the dalwadas to be.
My mom makes these dalwadas using just split green moong. She soaks 2-3 cups of split green moong for 3-4 hours, then drains out the excess water and grinds it with green chillies, garlic and salt to taste. Mom’s dalwadas are delish too, but I prefer the ones I make, with raw rice, urad daal, split moong daal and chana daal added in.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
Corn on the cob is a hugely popular snack across India, one you will find being sold on the streets almost everywhere. The most common way to eat it, though, is boiled or char-grilled, with a generous dose of salt/chaat masala/red chilli powder and lemon. Today, I present to you a different way of eating corn – Cheese & Chutney Corn On The Cob.
Here, I have slathered boiled corn with spicy green chutney, which bursts with flavour, and eliminates the need for any other spices. The corn has also been sprinkled generously with grated cheese. This is an indulgent snack, an extremely delicious one, though.
The inspiration for this recipe for Cheese & Chutney Corn On The Cob comes from the street-side food carts of Ahmedabad, which I have grown up frequenting. Many of these street carts offer unimaginable varieties of corn on the cob – from the simple Butter-Lemon Corn to Schezwan Corn and Cheese-Chutney Corn. While those street carts typically use huge pots of boiling water to cook the corn, I have pressure cooked the cobs. I have also used my own version of green chutney, and grated cheese instead of the cheese spread that is commonly used by these carts.
I hope you like this simple, but delectable snack!
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 fresh cobs of sweet corn
Spicy green chutney, as needed (See notes for the recipe)
2 cubes of cheese, grated, or as needed
Peel the cobs of sweet corn and remove all the silk.
Break each cob into two and place in a large vessel. Add in just enough water to cover the corn cobs.
Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
When the pressure has completely gone down, remove the cooked corn cobs from the water. Shake them gently to drain out all the excess water.
Spread spicy green chutney evenly over the cooked corn cobs.
Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over the corn cobs. Place on a serving plate. Serve immediately.
Click here for the recipe that I use to make the spicy green chutney. Make sure you don’t add too much water while making the spicy green chutney. Only then will you be able to spread it well on the corn cobs.
Use as much or as little spicy green chutney and grated cheese as you want to.
I have used Amul Processed Cheese in this dish. You can use any variety of cheese that you prefer, instead.
Make sure the corn is served immediately after preparation. Don’t let it sit around for too long once you have spread the spicy green chutney and the grated cheese over it.
You can even char-grill the corn or roast it on the gas stove, instead of pressure-cooking it like I have done here.
Did you like this recipe for Cheese & Chutney Corn On The Cob? Do tell me, in your comments!
The heart-shaped leaves of the colocasia plant – also called pattarveliya, arbi, elephant ear or taro – are considered a delicacy amongst several cultures in India. The most common way of consuming these leaves is in the form of rolls, usually with a paste made of gram flour and one or the other souring agent spread over them. There are little variations in how different parts of India cook these rolls – the Gujaratis call them Patra, and use sesame seeds, jaggery and a hint of garam masala in them, for instance, while the Pathrode of the Udupi-Mangalore regions uses ground rice, coconut, curry leaves and urad daal. I’m a big, big, big fan of the Gujarati-style Patra made using these colocasia leaves!
Growing up in Ahmedabad, Patra would be a common tea-time snack at our place, sometimes store-bought, often home-made. They suit my taste buds just fine – a medley of sweet and sour and salty and spicy. We also loved them because they were so healthy – they are steamed, after all, with no oil, and how much oil to use in the tempering depends entirely upon you!
Back in Ahmedabad, Appa would get big bunches of colocasia leaves when he returned from his weekly round of the local vegetable market. I would get overjoyed to see the big green leaves peeking out of his cloth bag, because that meant that delicious patra would soon be in the making in our kitchen. 🙂 When I shifted to Bangalore, I was so disappointed to see colocasia leaves not very commonly available. After a few years of missing them badly and grappling with the sad, wilted leaves we would sometimes get hold of in certain stores only, I began growing them at home! Yes, that’s how much I love my Patra! 🙂 The dish you see above is made from home-grown colocasia leaves – just how awesome is that?!
Gujarati-style patra is not a very difficult thing to make. The proceedure is quite simple, actually. What it does need is a bit of patience and practice – with time, the movements of cutting the stubborn nerves off without damaging the leaves, that of spreading the gram flour mixture evenly on the leaves, that of rolling up the leaves together, that of steaming them in a way that water doesn’t touch them, become more and more natural and easier. So, if you are about to make patra for the first-ever time and the proceedure looks daunting, please don’t worry – just keep at it and it will become all smooth in time! The end result is totally worth it, I tell you.
First, we will get the colocasia leaf rolls ready.
1. Wash the colocasia leaves thoroughly. Pat dry gently with a cotton cloth.
2. Use a pair of scissors to trim down the stem and thicker veins on the leaves, taking care to ensure that the leaves don’t get cut in the process. Keep aside.
3. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for at least 10 minutes. When it cools down, extract a thick juice from the tamarind layer. Keep aside.
4. Peel ginger and chop finely. Chop green chillies finely. Grind both of these ingredients together in a mixer, using a little water. Keep aside.
4. Take the gram flour in a large mixing bowl. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala, jaggery powder, 2 pinches of asafoetida, the tamarind extract and the ginger-green chillies paste. Mix to a smooth paste using a little water – it should be thick and not too runny. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
5. Spread out the biggest colocasia leaf on a clean work surface, face down. Spread some of the gram flour paste evenly over the entire surface of the leaf. Place another leaf over this, face down, and spread some paste all over it too. Similarly, place another leaf on top, spread some paste, place the last leaf on top, spread the last of the paste. Fold the right and left edges of the leaves together, inwards. Then, roll all the leaves together tightly, from top to bottom. Place the prepared roll in a colander to steam evenly.
Now, we will steam the colocasia leaf roll.
6. Take 1 cup water in a pressure cooker bottom. Place a tall stand over it. Place the colander with the roll atop the stand.
7. Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Allow 4 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure come down naturally.
8. After the pressure has entirely gone down, open the pressure cooker and allow the roll to cool down. When the roll is cool enough to handle, cut it into pieces that are neither too thick nor too thin.
Now, we will temper the pieces.
9. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard and allow it to pop.
10. Add in the sesame seeds and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
11. Lower flame to medium. Add in the cooked colocasia pieces. Stir gently to coat the pieces evenly with the tempering.
12. Add in the grated coconut. Mix gently. Cook for a couple of seconds on medium flame. Switch off gas.
Lastly, add the garnishing.
13. Add the finely chopped coriander to the pan. Mix gently. Serve the patra hot – they are best had straight off the pan, but can be had cold too.
Check out the following pictures to get a clearer idea of how to make Patra.
1. You can even deep-fry the colocasia leaf rolls, if you want. I prefer the non-deep-fried version, just a simple tempering as above.
2. Do not add more than 4 medium-sized colocasia leaves in a single roll, otherwise it will become too large and unwieldy. If the leaves are too big, roll them 2 at a time.
3. Some people add garlic to the gram flour. I usually don’t.
4. You can do the tempering with ajwain aka carom seeds, instead of mustard – too. I prefer the mustard, though.
5. Amchoor powder can be used instead of tamarind, to add sourness to the patra.
6. Make sure you use a tall stand inside the pressure cooker while steaming the colocasia leaf roll. No water should enter the colander in which you will place the roll.
7. A colander helps in even steaming of the roll, rather than using a closed vessel.
8. You can use red chilli powder instead of green chillies, to spice up the colocasia leaf roll. Use as many or as few green chillies as you want, depending upon how spicy you want the roll to be.
9. Choose fresh, tender colocasia leaves to make this dish, preferably with black veins. Don’t choose mature leaves, as there are more chances of them causing itchiness on your tongue and in your throat.
10. A steamer can be used to cook the colocasia leaf roll, too. We prefer using a pressure cooker instead.
Did you like this recipe for Gujarati-Style Patra? Do let me know in your comments!
Whenever I think about Gujarati food, the first thing that pops into my head is the famous Kareena Kapoor dialogue from 3 Idiots – “Tum Gujarati log itne cute hote ho …par tum log ka khana itna khatarnak kyun hota hai?… dhokla, fafda, handva, thepla … aise lagta hai jaise koi missiles hai!”
Having grown up in Gujarat, the names of Gujarati snacks are as familiar to me as the back of my hand. This dialogue made me realise that the same might not be so for the rest of the world. Later, when I began travelling across India, I realised that a whole lot of the gorgeous Gujarati snacks I grew up eating are not even known by most people or, worse, are mixed up. No, people, khaman and dhokla are not the same, khamni and khandvi are not just different names for the same thing!
So, this post is a little attempt at demystifying the beautiful thing that Gujarati food is. This is an account of some of the street food that we tried out on our recent visit to Ahmedabad. Of course, this is not all there is to Gujarati food – I have barely scratched the surface here. These just form part of the proverbial iceberg!
Now, let’s check out all the street food we hogged on in Ahmedabad, shall we?
Khaman from Radhe Khaman
Pillow soft, juicy, absolutely delicious steamed cakes made from gram flour (besan) – that’s khaman for you. Slightly sweet and sour, khaman seasoned with fried green chillies, lots of finely chopped fine coriander and mustard, is a common snack across Gujarat. They are a popular breakfast item as well. Don’t be fooled by how delicate they look – they are quite filling!
In Gujarat, khaman is commonly served with a delicious runny chutney made of gram flour, and/or a dry salad made with raw papaya (called ‘kachumber‘).
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: Growing up, I used to love the fluffy, juicy khaman that Mehta Farsan House at Vadilal used to serve. On our last visit to Ahmedabad, though, I came to know that Mehta – a childhood landmark for me – doesn’t exist any more. 😦 So, we gorged on khaman brought home by a cousin from Radhe’s, another popular joint in the city, and they were absolutely blissful! Radhe’s apparently offers a whole lot of varieties of khaman, but we were content to stuff ourselves with the simple, basic Plain Khaman.
Raipur Bhajia House and Das Khaman are two other places in Ahmedabad which serve simply beautiful khaman.
2. The Gujju-fied version of pizza at Jasuben’s Old Pizza
Decades ago, Jasuben, a Gujarati homemaker started making ‘bhakri pizzas’ – little pizzas with a home-made semi-crunchy crust, smeared with a very desi sweetish gravy, doused with a generous amount of grated cheese, and baked in a gas oven. These pizzas became hugggeeelyyyy popular, and Old Pizza came into existence in Law Garden, Ahmedabad, to sell these pizzas to the general public. Today, there are scores of Old Pizza outlets all over Ahmedabad, and several other restaurants offering these bhakri pizzas. The popularity of Old Pizza shot through the roof after Prime Minister Narendra Modi once called it a great example of female entrepreneurship.
These pizzas have always been a huge favourite with me. I absolutely couldn’t miss checking them out on our Ahmedabad trip! The quality and the taste of the pizzas was just the same as I remembered them to be, and I fell in love with them all over again! 🙂
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: You can try this out at any of the Old Pizza outlets in town, including the original Law Garden one. We visited the outlet at Prahlad Nagar.
3. Dalwada from Ambika Dalwada
Gujarati dalwada taste absolutely fantastic, especially if you have them on a dark, rainy day. They are deep-fried balls of a special batter made from broken moong, with the skin on. They are typically served in a newspaper cone, with salt-doused thinly sliced onions and fried green chillies.
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: I think Khadawala, a little street-side stall near Ellis Bridge, made the bestest of dalwadas in Ahmedabad. Sadly, Khadawala doesn’t exist any more. Gujarat Dalwada and Ambika Dalwada are the two next best outlets, if you want to try out this Gujarat-special snack, with several branches across the city. The dalwadas here are quite different from those at Khadawala, but they are pretty good too.
4. Dabeli at Jay Bhavani
It would be very tough for me to choose just one favourite from all the lovely Gujarati snacks I have grown up eating. If I simply had to, though, dabeli would rank among the top three for sure. That sweetish potato filling, that fine sev, those pomegranate arils and gorgeous tangy and spicy chutneys all fit into a buttered and toasted slice of pav – that’s heaven!
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: Most street-side carts in Ahmedabad will do a great job of making the dabeli, I can say from experience. I am not sure if the carts I grew up eating them from exist any more, though. Jay Bhavani makes it really, really well, if you’d like to try this out, and they are at multiple locations throughout the city.
5. Buffvada at a roadside stall in Dhalgarwad
Buffvada is, basically, fasting food in Gujarat. A shell made of potatoes and arrowroot flour is stuffed with a filling made of dry fruits, nuts, coconut, ginger and green chilly, sometimes pomegranate seeds too. This is then deep-fried to perfection. Bliss in every bite, if you ask me.
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: Sadly, it is not very easy to find buffvada in Ahmedabad, especially when there are no festivals around the corner. Very few places make this, and fewer still make it the right way. Mehta Farsan House at Vadilal used to do some really love buffvadas but, considering they have closed down now, we tried them out at a tiny road-side stall in Dhalgarwad and found them just about average. If you want to sample them, I would suggest you head to any of the various Das outlets in town – I understand they make some killer buffvadas, from what I’ve heard!
6. Neera from any roadside stall
Palm nectar or the sap extracted from palm trees is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Not only is it loaded with health benefits, but tastes absolutely scrumptious as well. Locally called neera, the sap is extracted before sunrise and is sold off at roadside stalls before noon, before it begins to ferment. It is typically available in the winter months – knocking down a couple of glasses of cold, cold neera on a cold, cold winter morning is an experience in itself!
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: Go to any of the government-recognised neera stalls by the roadside in Ahmedabad, and you are sure to get a genuine, good glassful. The authentic stuff tastes absolutely lovely, cool and sweet. Beware of fake stalls that sell sugar water in the name of neera – they exist too!
7. Ragda Pattice at Swastik, Municipal Market
Ragda Pattice would rank right up there, among my top three favourite Gujju snacks. For the uninitiated, I would say this is the Gujarati version of aloo tikki chaat – potato patties pan-fried till the outer shell is crispy, then dunked in a lovely sweet-spicy gravy made of peas, served with a generous dose of chopped onions and coriander, sweet tamarind chutney and spicy green chutney. If you haven’t tried this out, you are seriously missing out!
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: My family and I have been eating ragda pattice at Swastik, a roadside stall in Municipal Market, ever since I was a kid. I have seen the same gentleman making it over the years – he has grown older, and we have too. On our recent visit to Ahmedabad, we headed back here for our fill of ragda pattice and, I am absolutely thrilled to report, it still tastes the same – out-of-the-world delish. Don’t go by the shabby look of the place – just go ahead, trust me, and grab a plate. This guy makes the best in Ahmedabad! He takes pride in the fact that he uses only pure Amul ghee to make them, too!
8. Dal Pakwaan at Jay Jhulelal, Vastrapur Lake
Crisp, fried pooris (pakwaan) served with a delicious tempered chana daal gravy (daal) is a common breakfast combination in Sindhi households. I tried it out for the first-ever time, on our recent trip to Ahmedabad, and absolutely loved it. The flavours were so subtle, yet so beautiful!
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: A cousin of mine insisted on dragging me to this little outlet near Vastrapur Lake, called Jay Jhulelal, which apparently makes the best Dal Pakwaan in town. I am so thankful he did that – the dish we sampled there was such a beauty, inside and out! I’d recommend you to visit the same place if you wish to try this dish out – I’m not sure of where else you get good Dal Pakwaan in the city.
9. Sev Khamni, Khandvi and Idada at Das
Sev Khamni is yet another gorgeous, gorgeous Gujarati snack that I can have any time of the day. Chana daal is soaked for a few hours, then ground and cooked with chosen spices, to be served with a generous dousing of pomegranate arils, coriander and fresh coconut. Love! (Click here for the Sev Khamni recipe on my blog!)
Khandvi refers to thin, thin, thin rolls of cooked chickpea flour (besan) batter, beautifully salted and slightly sour in taste, tempered with loads of coriander, mustard, fresh coconut and sesame seeds. It requires loads of finesse, practice and patience to make, but it well worth the effort!
Now, Idada refers to steamed cakes of a white batter made of rice and urad daal, not unlike idli batter. Commonly served with a tempering of mustard, sesame and coriander, pillowy Idada or White Dhokla are an absolute pleasure to eat.
Each of these three Gujarati snacks – Sev Khamni, Khandvi and Idada – are super healthy, cooked with minimal or no oil (except for the fried sev, of course)!
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: Das is a great place to hog on any of the above three old-world Gujju snacks. There are several outlets across the city – take your pick!
10. Chana Jor Garam off a roadside stall
Chana Jor Garam, I’m sure most of you already know. It is probably not the healthiest of snacks, but God, it is so delicious!
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: Pick up a newspaper cone brimming with Chana Jor Garam from any of the several road-side vendors selling it in town. Most of them make it well – you can customise it to your liking too – and it isn’t too expensive either!
11. Chaats at Honest
I’ve grown up eating the most delectable of paav bhaji, pulao and chaats at Honest. Back then, they used to have just a couple of outlets – now, they seem to have mushroomed all over the city! I absolutely had to go and try out Honest, on our last visit to Ahmedabad, but I ended up utterly disappointed with most of the food there. Prices seem to have quadrupled, while the quality of the paav bhaji and pulao seems to have gone down four times. 😦 The chaats that I tried out here – Bhel Poori and Chatni Poori – were still lovely, the way I remember them being all those years ago. Some school friends that I spoke to echoed my thoughts about Honest exactly – that the taste and quality of the food has, indeed, drastically gone down. Many of them now don’t go to Honest any more. They rather prefer going to small road-side stalls near their homes for their paav bhaji and pulao fix.
Wondering what chatni poori is? It is a cross between sev poori and pani poori, a gorgeous confection that I am not sure if you get outside of Gujarat. The small, round pooris that are used to make golgappas form the base of the chatni poori, which is served with assorted chutneys, lots of fine sev, onions and coriander. Had at the right place, it tastes absolutely lovely.
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: Considering the utterly forgettable paav bhaji and pulao I had at Honest, I definitely would not be recommending them. I think you would be better off trying these from the small carts that litter most alleys of Ahmedabad.
Go to Honest for the chaats, though, especially the chatni poori. If you are a chaat freak like me, I am sure you will love it. Of course, there are a lot of other places that will serve you glorious chaat in Ahmedabad, but I speak only of Honest because that was the only place where we tried them out, in the limited time we had available to us.
12. Kulfis at Asharfi
Asharfi is an age-old establishment in Ahmedabad, one that has wowed generations of citizens with its creamy, delectable kulfi. Like Honest, Asharfi outlets too seem to have mushroomed all over the city. Thankfully, the taste and quality of the kulfis we tried out at Asharfi still remains great, as it always used to be.
Best places to try this out in Ahmedabad: Don’t miss the old-world kulfis at Asharfi, whenever you get a chance to visit Ahmedabad. The Chocolate Kulfi, Pista Kulfi, Sitaphal Kulfi and Mixed Kulfi are personal favourites – they come highly recommended!
Well, that’s all about our street food journey in Ahmedabad! I hope you enjoyed reading the post!
So, the next time you visit the city, you know where to head to, for a happy tummy, eh?
Rasawala Kala Chana Nu Shaak is an utterly delectable Gujarati-style black chickpea curry, a beautiful medley of flavours. It is sweet, it is spicy, it is salty, it is tangy. It makes for just the perfect accompaniment to rotis and parathas, and goes well with dosas and steamed rice as well. When Shantaben, a Gujarati neighbour of ours, taught me how to make this Rasawala Kala Chana Nu Shaak, I was amazed by its simplicity. How can a curry be so simple, yet so delicious, I wondered. But it was just that – beautifully simple, elegant and absolutely scrumptious.
My memories of Rasawala Kala Chana Nu Shaak and Shantaben are inextricably tied to Thatha, my paternal grandfather.
My grandfather lost both his parents when he was around 3 years of age. His father died first, and then, his mother followed, in about a week’s time. It was Thatha‘s elder sister who took care of him, who brought him up, made sure he was educated and settled in a job. ‘We were living in hard times then. A bowl of day-old curd rice would feel heavenly to us, like a God-sent gift,’ he would always tell me. ‘You kids have too much. Too much choice, too much more stuff than you really need,’ he would say. As I grew up, I began to understand what he meant.
Thatha was in his 20s when he moved from the little village in Tamilnadu where he grew up to Gujarat, to pursue higher education. By then, he was already married to my grandmother, Paati. In Baroda, Gujarat, Thatha found himself a job in a textile mill (mills were big in Gujarat then!), and began to study Textile Technology. He began to send money back home to Paati and, slowly and gradually, started carving out a life for himself.
In the course of his career, Thatha moved to Ahmedabad (that explains my connection with the city!), and took on a better job in a better textile mill. Once he had saved enough for a down payment on an apartment in the city, he bought it. This house was palatial compared to the one he grew up in! When he thought he was making enough to comfortably manage a family in a city, Paati came to Ahmedabad to live with her husband. Three children came into the picture – all sons – and one of them was my dad. It was in this house that Thatha bought in Ahmedabad where I grew up and lived for a considerable chunk of my life.
Shantaben, an elderly Gujarati lady, lived in the apartment above us, in Ahmedabad. She had lost her husband when she was young, and had no children of her own. Thatha began seeing in Shantaben the sister who had lovingly raised him after their parents’ passing away. Shantaben began seeing our family as her own. It was at a meal at Shantaben‘s home – I don’t remember for what occasion – that this Rasawala Kala Chana Nu Shaak was served to us. I was a teenager then, I guess. It was our first tryst with this beauty, and all of us loved, loved, loved it. When we told Shantaben about this, a few days later, she laughed. ‘This is something we make regularly, in Gujarati households. It is nothing special!,’ she said. ‘Come, I’ll teach you how to make it!,’ and whisked Amma and me away to her kitchen. We saw, we learnt, and the rest is history, as they say.
Here is how to make the Rasawala Kala Chana Nu Shaak, Shantaben‘s way.
Ingredients (serves 2-3):
1-1/4 cup black chickpeas aka kala chana
2 tablespoons oil
2 pinches of asafoetida aka hing
1 teaspoon mustard aka rai
1 teaspoon cumin aka jeera
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
Salt, to taste
A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
1/2 teaspoon tamarind powder
Red chilli powder, to taste
1 tablespoon garam masala, or to taste
2-3 tablespoons powdered jaggery, or to taste
8-10 sprigs of fresh coriander leaves
About 1-1/2 tablespoon gram flour aka besan
1. Wash the kala chana thoroughly under running water. Soak them overnight, in just enough water to cover them.
2. In the morning, drain off the water from the kala chana, and add just enough fresh water to cover them. Pressure cook the kala chana for 4 whistles. Let the pressure come down naturally, and keep the kala chana aside. Do not discard the water in which the kala chana was pressure cooked – reserve it for use later in making the Rasawala Kala Chana Nu Shaak.
3. Soak the tamarind in boiling water, for about 10 minutes. When the tamarind is cool enough to handle, extract a thick paste out of it, adding water little by little. Keep aside.
4. Chop the coriander finely. Keep aside.
5. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the mustard, and allow it to splutter. Add the cumin, asafoetida and the curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
6. Now, turn the flame to medium. Add the cooked kala chana and the reserved water (which they were cooked in).
7. Add in salt to taste, jaggery and tamarind paste. Mix well.
8. Cook uncovered on medium flame for 4-5 minutes, or till 75% of the water has evaporated. Taste and adjust seasonings as required.
9. Meanwhile, make a paste of the gram flour in a little water, in a small bowl. Keep handy.
9. When the gravy has cooked for 4-5 minutes, add in the garam masala and the gram flour paste. Mix well. Cook uncovered on medium flame for about 2 minutes more. Switch off the gas when the gravy begins to thicken, but is still a tad watery. If you feel the gravy has become too thick at this stage, add a bit of water. Remember that the curry will become even thicker on cooling.
10. Mix in finely chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rotis, parathas, pooris, steamed rice.
I have always had this Rasawala Kala Chana Nu Shaak as a no onion-no garlic preparation, and so make it the same way. We like it this way as well. If you want to, you may add some finely chopped garlic, ginger and onions after the tempering is done.
Sugar can be used in place of jaggery powder.
Remember to pressure cook the kala chana in just enough water to cover them. The water in which they are cooked is full of protein and, hence, it is a good idea to retain it and use it in making the curry.
If you want to, you can add in some cumin powder and coriander powder, along with the garam masala. I usually skip this, as I like keeping this curry as simple as I can.
Amma adds in sambar masala instead of the garam masala, in making this Rasawala Kala Chana Nu Shaak. The result, although not strictly Gujarati, still tastes awesome.
Tomato puree can be used in making this curry, in place of the tamarind paste. Alternatively, you could use a mix of tomato puree and tamarind paste. Squeeze in a dash of lemon juice at the end, if you feel the tanginess from the tomatoes and/or tamarind is not enough.
The moment we walked in the entrance at the kite festival, we found ourselves in a sprawling food court, peppered with everything from Gujarati farsan and winter delicacies to ice cream and cakes. It was at one of these stalls that I spotted these prickly, pretty pinkish-red fruits displayed in a basket. I was drawn in, and absolutely had to go and find out what these were. Soon enough, I gathered that these were the fruits of the wild cactus – called ‘Findla‘ in Gujarati, often referred to as ‘Cactus Pear’ or ‘Prickly Pear’ – and… they are very much edible!
The people manning the stall – from an Ahmedabad-based firm called Royal Gabat – told us of vast quantities of cactus growing wild in the arid rural areas in Gujarat. Cactus plants are also widely used by farmers to fence off their land. Flowers and prickly fruits grow on these cactus plants throughout the year, fruits that tribals and people from the villages have been consuming for ages now. Only recently, though, has research been done on the health benefits that these fruits hold, the staff at the stall told us. And, apparently, the fruits do possess nutritional benefits by the truckloads.
Cactus Pear aka Prickly Pear or Findla has anti-cancer properties, helps manage diabetes and high cholesterol, aids in weight management, promotes good dental health, helps relieve arthritis and muscle strain, boosts the immune system, and aids the production of iron in the body. These fruits – and the health benefits one can gain from them – are not very popular in the urban areas, and that was just what Royal Gabat had set out to rectify. The firm produces a variety of food products using the Prickly Pear – from syrups and jams to a ready-to-drink juice. The fruits have a lovely sourish taste to them, which lends itself beautifully to juices and jams. A lot of care needs to be exercised in handling the Prickly Pear, however, as their surface is full of thorns.
For a princely sum of INR 20, the husband and I sampled a glass of the ready-to-drink findla sherbet – juice made from the Prickly Pear, with rock sugar instead of the regular refined sugar. It tasted absolutely delicious, sweet and tangy and cool and refreshing. I am so glad I got to taste this beauty and discover this wonderful fruit!
Since our luggage was already threatening to exceed the permissible in-flight weight limits, we restrained ourselves from picking up any of the Prickly Pear goodies from the stall. 😦 We don’t use much bottled, packaged stuff, anyway.
I think I would love to experiment with the fresh fruits in my kitchen, whenever I can get hold of them. They would make some awesome desserts, me thinks. Any leads on where I can find Prickly Pears or Cactus Pears in Bangalore?
We are quite the kadhi-loving family. A well-made cup of kadhi makes our day. We love most versions of kadhi – from the non-sweetened Gujarati one and the South Indian more kozhambu to the Himachali rehru. Making kadhi is always the preferred way to use up any leftover curd in the house.
Today, I am going to share the recipe for another version of Gujarati kadhi, sweetened with jaggery or sugar. This is a very simple dish, rendered full of flavour thanks to the assorted spices that go into the tempering. This Gujarati kadhi makes for a beautiful accompaniment to phulka rotis and sabzi, with khichdi or plain steamed rice.
Let’s now see how to make this Gujarati kadhi, shall we?
Ingredients (serves 4-5):
3 cups home-made sour curd
1.5-2 cups water
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 tablespoons besan aka gram flour
2-3 green chillies
A 1-inch piece of ginger
3-4 tablespoons sugar or jaggery powder
A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves
For the tempering:
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds aka rai
1 teaspoon cumin seeds aka jeera
2 pinches of asafoetida
1 sprig curry leaves
A 1-inch piece of cinnamon bark
4-5 dry red chillies
1. In a large pan, mix together the curd, water, salt to taste, jaggery or sugar, turmeric powder and gram flour. Whisk well.
2. Slit the green chillies length-wise, and add them to the pan.
3. Peel the ginger and grate it finely. Add the grated ginger to the pan. Whisk well once again.
4. Now, place the pan with the prepared curd mixture on medium flame. Stirring intermittently, cook till it comes to a boil.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the tempering in a separate pan. For this, heat the oil in a pan. Turn flame to low-medium. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Add in the cumin and the asafoetida, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Add the cloves, cinnamon bark (broken into two), curry leaves and dry red chillies. Leave them in for just a couple of seconds, stirring with a spoon to prevent clumping. Switch off gas, and keep aside.
6. After the curd mixture has come to a boil, lower flame further. Now, add the prepared tempering to the mixture. Simmer for a minute, stirring intermittently. Switch off gas.
7. Chop the coriander finely. Add to the prepared Gujarati kadhi. Serve hot, with phulkas or steamed rice.
It is best to cook the Gujarati kadhi on a low-medium flame, to prevent curdling. Similarly, prepare the tempering on a low-medium flame, too, to prevent burning.
Use sour curd for best results. If your curd is not sour, leave it outside, at room temperature, for about half a day for it to turn sour.
I have used home-made curd to make this Gujarati kadhi. It was only moderately thick, so I have used only about 1.5 cups water. If you are using store-bought curd that is very thick, you might want to use more water. The curd-water-gram flour mixture that you prepare must be runny and not very thick, but not very watery either.
We do not use red chilli powder in Gujarati kadhi. The only heat in the kadhi is from the grated ginger and the green chillies. Increase/decrease the quantity of green chillies you use, depending upon how hot you want the kadhi to be.
You can either finely grate the ginger or make a paste, before adding it to the curd mixture.
While preparing the tempering, add the dry red chillies at the very end, to prevent them from exploding. You can make the tempering in oil or ghee, or use a mix of oil and ghee. I have used just refined oil here.
Do not skip the jaggery or sugar – sweetness is a must in Gujarati kadhi. Let your tastebuds determine the quantity of jaggery or sugar you want to use. You can also use raw cane sugar or palm jaggery here.
Make sure all the ingredients are well integrated with the curd, before proceeding to make the kadhi. I use a small wooden whisk to make sure everything is well incorporated together.
Do try out this Gujarati kadhi, and let me know how you liked it!
This recipe is for the Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge that I am part of. The theme for this month is ‘Gujarati recipes’. I was paired with Shailaja Reddy, who writes at Sahasra Recipes, and she gave me two ingredients to work with – curd and gram flour (besan). This Gujarati kadhi is what I decided to make with these secret ingredients.
Once upon a time, very, very long ago, the Sabarmati river used to be the lifeline of Ahmedabad city. The city was founded along the banks of the Sabarmati, in fact, in 1411. The river was the city’s main source of water, economic activities and recreation for the residents of Ahmedabad.
The sad state of the Sabarmati
As the years passed, though, the Sabarmati began to get more and more neglected. Sewage water and waste from industries flowed into the river, and slums built up alongside its banks. The detritus after performing poojas and the last rites of loved ones began to be thrown into the waters of the river. Over the years, the river began to wear a dull, grey look as it ran wearily through the city. The charm of the Sabarmati was lost, entirely.
Cut to 2005.
The Sabarmati began to see some heavy-duty action, all for the better. A plan for the refurbishing of the river (which was proposed as far back as the 1960s) finally began to, finally, see the light of day.
The slums alongside the river banks were cleared, and the displaced slum dwellers were rehabilitated. The waters of the Sabarmati underwent deep cleansing. Facilities were set up for the effective disposal of the city’s sewage and industrial waste, and to ensure that the river waters stay free of pollution.
Landscaped gardens, walking and jogging tracks, play areas for children, activity centres, food and drink stalls, boating and zip-lining facilities and well-lit pavements began to be constructed around the river. The unorganised vendors who congregated every Sunday by the riverside to sell everything from antique locks and typewriters to goats, second-hand clothes and books were organised into a well thought-out, proper marketplace.
Cut to 2014.
The rejuvenation of the Sabarmati river was finally completed, at the cost of crores of Indian rupees. The Sabarmati Riverfront became a beautiful, beautiful place, well-lit and cheerful. The waters of the river now looked pristine, a pretty deep blue that were a far cry from the murky depths it held just a few years ago.
The Sabarmati Riverfront today
Today, the Sabarmati Riverfront is a major attraction for tourists and locals alike, a weekend hot-spot. It is a lovely, lovely place, perfect to spend a few hours in. It has something to offer everyone, a well thought-out, well-constructed space. On our recent visit to Ahmedabad, we visited the Sabarmati Riverfront and, I must say, I was stunned to see just how beautiful it looked. This is the first time I saw the river after the riverfront was developed.
The banks of the Sabarmati have always been the venue for the International Kite Festival, but the festival became hugely popular only after the development of the riverfront. Today, the International Kite Festival here draws crowds from several countries across the globe. A flower show is also held here every year, attracting hordes of people from all over the city. We had the opportunity to check out both the International Kite Festival 2018 and the Flower Show 2018 while at the riverfront, earlier this year.
The charm of the Sabarmati is back, big-time. The river is, once again, the lifeline of the city. Wikipedia says, “The riverfront has succeeded in re-establishing the connection between the residents of Ahmedabad and the Sabarmati”, and I very heartily agree.
Glimpses from the Flower Show 2018
We were lucky to be in Ahmedabad exactly when the Flower Show 2018, held at the Sabarmati Riverfront, was on. The event has been a huge success in the last few years, and it was so this year as well, if the crowds thronging the venue were anything to go by. We got to see some really lovely installations, and I managed to capture some of them on camera, despite the jostling crowds.
I leave you with some visuals from the Flower Show 2018.
The Sabarmati Riverfront is a charming place, spacious enough to accomodate the huge crowds that can usually be found here, especially on the weekends. When we visited, it in broad daylight, the riverfront looked absolutely gorgeous. I hear the place looks stunning in the nights, all lit up. Well, day or night, this is definitely a spot that merits a visit. Whenever you are in Ahmedabad, do check out this lovely place!
There is no entry fee. If you wish to take up an activity – like boating or zip-lining – separate charges would be applicable. Do try to time your visit with to Ahmedabad to coincide with an ongoing festival here – I bet you’ll love the experience!
The next time you spot a bunch of tender radishes with the leafy greens attached to them, don’t turn a blind eye to them. Buy them!
Radish greens are very much edible. They are rich in iron, calcium, fibre, protein and Vitamin C. Not just that, they possess cancer-fighting properties, aid digestion and help the body eradicate toxins.
These leaves make for some highly delicious dishes. They can be used raw, in salads, or made into daal or a variety of curries, too. This Mula Ni Bhaaji Nu Shaak, a Gujarati-style dry preparation using these greens and gram flour (besan) is just one way to use them.
It isn’t very tough to come across radish greens here in Bangalore, especially in winter. In winter, you get absolutely gorgeous radish greens, full-bodied and very tender, with the tiniest of radishes attached to them. I can’t resist a good bunch of radish greens when I spot them at the vegetable vendor’s. More often than not, I end up making this Gujarati Mula Ni Bhaaji Nu Shaak with them. Amma learnt this recipe for Mula Ni Bhaaji Nu Shaak from a Gujarati neighbour of ours, and I, in turn, learnt it from her.
This shaak is a huge favourite at home, making for just the perfect accompaniment with rotis and kadhi or daal. The sugar (or jaggery) used in this dish balances out the slightly bitter taste that radish greens possess, as does the gram flour. It is such a simple thing to make too, something that gets ready in a jiffy!
Here is how we make the Gujarati-style Mula Ni Bhaaji Nu Shaak.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
About 3 cups of young radishes + their greens, chopped finely
Salt, to taste
Jaggery powder, to taste
Red chilli powder, to taste
Gram flour (besan), about 1/2 cup
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
A pinch of asafoetida
. Dry roast the gram flour on medium flame till it turns slightly brown and begins to emit a lovely fragrance. Ensure that it doesn’t burn. When done, transfer to a plate and keep aside.
Now, heat the oil in a pan. Add in the mustard, and allow to pop. Add in the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds.
Add in the chopped radish and the greens. Cook, covered, on low-medium flame till the radish and the greens get tender.
Add salt, jaggery powder and red chilli powder to taste, along with the turmeric powder. Mix well.
Cook on low-medium flame for a couple more minutes, or till the radish and the greens are fully cooked. This should take 6-7 minutes. The radish will let out water – you need to cook the radish and the greens till all the water is fully absorbed.
Now, add the roasted gram flour to the pan. Mix well. Cook on low-medium flame, uncovered, till all the ingredients are well integrated together. This should take 3-4 minutes.
Switch off gas. Serve with rotis and daal tadka or kadhi.
1. Use radishes and greens that are very tender, in the peak of winter, for best results.
2. This curry is supposed to be dry. If you feel it is very dry, though, you could add a splash of water before adding in the gram flour.
3. Sugar can be used in place of jaggery powder. Do not skip the jaggery/sugar, because it is what gives the curry a beautiful, well-rounded flavour.
You like? I hope you will try out this Mula Ni Bhaaji Nu Shaak too, and that you will love it as much as we do!
On this blog, I have often waxed eloquent about just how abundant and beautiful winter produce is. Our recent visit to Ahmedabad happened to be in the middle of winter, when the vegetables and other seasonal produce was all over the markets, at their glorious best. We had our fill of them, of course, and even managed to bring some back home to Bangalore.
I picked up some gorgeous, bright red chillies while in Ahmedabad, locally called ‘Bhavnagri marcha‘. These chillies are believed to have their origin in the city of Bhavnagar, Saurashtra, and are available in both green and red variants. These chillies are fat and long, which makes them perfect candidates for pickles, especially those of the stuffed variety. They are typically found in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi, in the winter months.
Though these chillies are largely used to make stuffed pickles, I didn’t do that. Instead, I used them in a North Indian-style pickle, Bhavnagari Marcha Nu Athanu ,something that Amma used to make off and on. The family loved it to bits! The pickle disappeared within mere days of the making, and I am pretty sure I’m going to be making it many more times!
Here is how I made the Bhavnagri Marcha Nu Athanu.
Ingredients (makes about 1 cup of pickle):
10-12 fresh big red chillies
1/3 cup mustard oil
Salt, to taste
2-3 teaspoons turmeric powder
2 teaspoons red chilli powder (optional)
About 1-1/2 tablespoons rai aka mustard seeds
About 1-1/2 tablespoons saunf aka fennel seeds
About 1-1/2 tablespoons kalonji aka onion seed
1 teaspoon methi daana aka fenugreek seeds
Juice of 1-1/2 lemons or to taste
1. Wash the red chillies well under running water. Pat dry using a cotton cloth.
2. Remove the stems from the chillies, the seeds, and the inner ribs. This will remove most of the heat from the chillies. If you want a spicier pickle, let some of the seeds and ribs stay. Chop the chillies into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add salt and turmeric powder to the mixing bowl. Add in red chilli powder, if using. If you are letting some of the seeds and ribs from the chillies stay, you might want to skip the red chilli powder altogether. If you have removed all the ribs and seeds, adding the red chilli powder would be good.
4. Take the mustard oil in a pan and heat it till it smokes.
5. Meanwhile, grind the mustard seeds, fennel, onion seeds and fenugreek seeds together. Add this powder to the mixing bowl.
6. When the oil reaches smoking point, pour it over the chillies and the other ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well, using a clean, dry spoon.
7. Allow the pickle to cool down completely, and then mix in the lemon juice. Mix well, ensuring that all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together. Store in a clean, dry, air-tight container.
8. Let the pickle stay out, at room temperature, for about 2 days, during which time the chillies will get soft and absorb the spices and lemon juice well. Then, you can refrigerate it, removing it from the fridge as and when needed. Ensure that you use only a clean, dry spoon to consume the pickle, and it stays for 15-20 days.
I used kacchi ghani mustard oil to make this pickle, because we absolutely love it in our pickles. You can use ordinary mustard oil or any other type of oil to make this pickle, too.
You can add a mix of lemon juice and amchoor powder to the pickle too. I prefer using only lemon juice.
You like? I hope you will try out this Bhavnagri Marcha Nu Athanu too, and that you will love it as much as we did!